Literacy is the ability to read and write. These are both fundamental skills that every child should master. It leads to success in K-12 school, post-secondary school, the ability to compete in the job market, and participation in democratic process (Wei, Blackorby, & Schiller, 2011). Learning how to read and write however is a very complex process that requires an understanding of both oral and written language.
To begin reading children need a strong back ground in the language he or she is trying to read. Knowledge of basic grammar rules and a big vocabulary help children make meaning of what they are reading. Without this knowledge words can be seemingly random, and the reader has a harder time predicting what an unfamiliar word may be.
Having a rich vocabulary, where the reader knows the meaning behind the words, helps in the reading process. Being able to decode a word is only part of the process; a person has to understand what the word means to fully comprehend what is written. While some people might be able to read and pronounce words written in Spanish that does not always mean he or she can understand what is being read.
Teachers should be constantly working on building their students vocabularies. In the earlier grades, it is very easy to build it in as most of the language typically used in school is new vocabulary; sum, difference, characters, title, etc… Children need to not only hear the words but also use it themselves in the proper context. Teaching children new words to describe what they already know can also help them to a boring sentence into one that helps their audience really understand what is being said. A sentence of ‘I like blue cars’, while technically correct does not convey as much meaning as ‘I like midnight blue racing cars’.
Knowing basic grammar rules also helps a reader recognize when something they read might not be right. If a child reads a sentence like ‘she can over to my house last night’, knowledge of grammar should make him or her stop and reread knowing that the sentence didn’t make sense and that ‘can’ was really the word ‘came’. Without this knowledge however the sentence become illogical and might through off the comprehension of the entire story.
When a child has language delays however this can impact their literacy in big ways. Children who have been identified with language delays have lower scores in reading and spelling when compared to non-delayed peers in first grade (Bishop & Adams, 1990). Research also indicates that early literacy difficulties will most likely persist over time (McGinty & Justice, 2009). These two facts should be great areas of concern for both parents and teachers during the early childhood years when the foundation for literacy skills is being laid down.
If a child is showing signs of significant language delays the earlier is it detected and the child gets appropriate help and support the better. It would be very difficult for children to read or write...